Unordinary Gentlemen

As we know, our site name is ironic- gentlemen are anything but ordinary now. Here Andrew Gimson mourns the death of the English gentleman and its concomitant ideal of good, selfless conduct. George Bernard Shaw called a gentleman one who puts more into the world than he takes out. Gimson makes a helpful distinction between…

Language Police

It’s leaked that homeland security or other law enforcement authorities are screening social media facilities to find plots about attacks, toxic gas incidents, drugs, gangs, violence, assassinations, and other threats by targeting certain words in the flood of online (human to human) communication- a smart use of national security pork and power for sure.

Friday Jukebox

Hopefully, nobody else wanted this honor. I haven’t done it in a while. Plus, the Reverend Horton Heat played at my favorite bar on Wednesday and I was the DJ for the night, spinning old rockabilly, blues, gospel, rock’n’roll, and garage rock records in between the bands. The Reverend sent his complements on the music,…

Note on Nana and femmes fatales

In this entertaining episode of her web series, film writer Lianne Spiderbaby discusses the connection between film noirs, with their nefarious and inscrutable femmes fatales slinking about in the shadows, and shifting gender roles brought about by the Second World War. This got me thinking about Zola’s Nana, who we recently discussed, and whether that particular soft…

Playwriting Contest

Hey folks! I’m getting back to play writing with a screwball comedy. It’s about a corrupt big city mayor who takes on some grand and insincere endeavor to improve his image. It has to be something fairly ridiculous. If you come up with a good enough idea to construct a flimsy plot around and hang jokes off…

Note on Zola and heredity

How should we read Zola today? Reading his Nana, I was struck by a scene in which the corrupt journalist Fauchery writes an article attacking the well-connected courtesan at the center of the novel, and the Second Empire culture by association: “Entitled The Golden Fly, it was the story of a girl descended from four or…

Note on the Old Man of the Mountain

In his voyage account from the 13th century, Marco Polo tells of “the old man of the mountain” (Book I: Ch. 21), or Ala’u-‘d-Din Muhammad, one of the last rulers of the Nizari Ismailis, a heretical offshoot of Shiite Islam in lands stretching from modern Afghanistan to Syria: “In a beautiful valley, enclosed between two lofty…

Note on “The Day After”

In November, 1983, the ABC network aired the television movie The Day After, depicting the effects of a nuclear war on the Midwestern United States. Viewed by an estimated 100 million people, the film was considered deeply affecting, not to mention horrifying, and may have inspired President Reagan to sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty…

Note on Zola

In his 1877 preface to, and defence of, his novel L’Assommoir, Émile Zola writes: “I wanted to depict the inexorable downfall of a working class family in the poisonous atmosphere of our industrial suburbs. Intoxication and idleness lead to a weakening of family ties, to the filth of promiscuity, to the progressive neglect of decent feelings,…

Let’s All Go Insane at the Movies!

Over at the League sub-blog “Forbes”, E.D. shares Roger Ebert’s suggestions as to why movie theatregoing is declining. As avid cinephiles, one might expect me and the missus to go to the movies more frequently, and yet our attempts to do so this holiday season reminded us once again that, for adults, moviegoing is not…

Hobbes: Notes on Leviathan

Karl Marx once said that he wouldn’t consider himself to be a “Marxist” and reading Leviathan I don’t find that Hobbes was quite as “Hobbesian” as he’s made out to be either. Often, he’s described as a po-faced authoritarian, pessimistic about human nature and the outcome of unrestricted freedom; this is contrasted with Locke, who is depicted…

The League in 2010

If we’re going to pick our favorite posts from the last three years for this League Journal, we’re going to have to remember what was posted in that time. I’ve been making my way through 2010 and I can say that these were some of my favorite posts of 2010. Now, via the comments, we…

Ibsen’s “Ghosts” of long dead values

Currently, the Soul Pepper Theatre in Toronto’s distillery district is staging Ibsen’s Ghosts; thus one can safely dissect the hypocrisies of the 19th century Norwegian bourgeoisie in the happy company of the 21st century Canadian equivalent. Since the characters in the play are moral hypocrites, it is safe to say that no one in the…

The Journal of Ordinary Gentlemen

[bumped to the top and the front page for more visibility – Erik] Two recent stories got me thinking about a pet project/experiment that’s been percolating in my brain for a bit now: this one discusses the importance of the feminist blogosphere for a community of young women; this one explains the financial difficulties involved…

Culture and Order

For some reason, the following exchange of viewpoints, across a span of about a century, came to mind when reading the threads on the Wall Street protests. Arnold was writing about the protests in London of the (18)60s. Williams was commenting on Arnold’s essays in the (19)60s.

Robinson Crusoe, Enlightenment Man

Robinson Crusoe was an immediate success when first published in April, 1719. By the end of the year, it had been put through four editions in English, appeared in Dutch, French and German, was already being pirated (appropriately enough), and Defoe had completed a sequel, the Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, and another story, The…

Doctor Sardonicus in the Urinal

With the annual onset of seasonal depression my curmudgeon persona returns and promptly begins griping about every stupid fishing thing around me. Some of you might wonder how much that persona, who we can call “Doctor Sardonicus”, differs from my regularly mordant personality. Well, let’s recall it was last winter that I gibed the local…

Plotinus and Evil

How does evil get into the world? Where does it come from? Why is it here? For religions that attribute a fallen nature to man, this isn’t such a problem; after all, it was you and me. For Socrates and his epigones, it’s a considerably trickier problem. If all of material reality is defined by…

Friday Jukebox Blues

Okay I did one a few weeks ago. If nobody objects though here’s a really cool blues song. The original, by Geeshie Wiley is one of the most haunting songs you’ll ever hear. Those of you that play guitar can probably tell just how difficult, and actually kind of weird, the playing is here. This…

Record Store Day

As someone who spends, and has always spent, a great deal of time in record stores, I have not been able to avoid hearing about the fast approaching “death of the record store” after a long and heroic battle with the Internet. There are now documentaries on the subject and an international Record Store Day…

West Memphis Freed

Wow! The scuttlebutt has it that the West Memphis Three are about to be released from prison via a (somewhat bizarre) plea deal. No word yet as to what Eddie Vedder will due with all the additional free time if this is true. Update: CNN is now reporting that they’re going home.

Question on Empiricism

I know what you’re going to say: I’m getting you to do my homework for me! But I’m working on designing my Enlightenment course today and I’m trying to select a single text for the English Empiricism week. Some of you might have an opinion about this. Here are my choices:

Friday Jukebox

I haven’t done one of these in a while and this one is certainly not a new recording by any means (Domino Records, 1960 and available on the “Domino Records Story” CD). I’m a record-collecting nut and also listen to a lot of blues and early rock’n’roll; so I’ve heard many takes on Got my…